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Alternate Reality Games as a Platform for Practicing 21st Century Literacies

by Elizabeth Bonsignore, Kari Kraus, Derek Hansen, Marc Ruppel

Abstract

Alternate Reality Games (ARGs) are a new genre of transmedia practice where players collaboratively hunt for clues, make sense of disparate information, and solve puzzles to advance an ever-changing narrative that is woven into the fabric of the real world. This paper highlights the potential for ARGs to promote 21st Century literacy skills. We propose a meta-level framework for 21st century literacies composed of seven core literacies: gather, make sense, manage, solve, create, respect, collaborate. We then describe how the unique properties of ARGs can be used to teach these core literacies, drawing upon expert interviews and examples from numerous ARGs. Finally, we outline the major challenges and opportunities for using ARGs in the service of education, focusing on reuse, budgetary issues, scale, and improvisation. We end with an outline of key research questions that need to be addressed to merge ARGs and education.

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